Life is filled with mundane moments: chopping onions, folding laundry, putting gas in the tank. When we add them all up, we can find ourselves in a busy, run-around-all-day pattern that feels out of control. Vanessa Hunt encourages us to pause and discover some of life’s natural, slower rhythms, like those she finds while hulling fresh-picked strawberries. In following her lead, we can learn to appreciate every moment in a new way, moving to the rhythms of God’s grace.
Every year, when Summer rolls around, I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to live in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. You can’t go more than a few miles without seeing a roadside stand or farmer’s market overflowing with the bounty of this area.
Rolling hills are covered in vineyards belonging to world-renowned wineries and our weather here is about as perfect as it gets.
Yes, we have rain throughout the year, but we get reimbursed with comfortable temperatures, minimal bugs, and no humidity.
One of our favorite activities is finding farms where we can pick the fruit ourselves. And there’s nothing I love to pick more than strawberries.
Not only is their ‘ripe-factor’ the easiest to discern, but they usher in many days worth of deliciousness at our house.
Yogurt or cereal with sliced strawberries on top or spinach salad with a balsamic dressing, slivered almonds, and strawberries. And, of course, homemade strawberry shortcake.
I have to admit though that when I bring the basket of freshly-picked strawberries into the house and set them on the kitchen counter, I sigh a little bit as I think about all of the slicing and dicing that lies ahead of me. Because, just like babies, fresh strawberries don’t keep.
I know that soon my hands will look like I’ve been involved in some kind of violent encounter as they become stained by the strawberry juice and that the same people who were happy to help me do the picking are more reluctant to help me do this tedious task.
But, as I pull out my favorite paring knife (the brand my grandma always used) and grab the first strawberry from the top of the pile, the rhythm begins. Take a strawberry, slice off the stem, slice it down the middle then slice those halves into smaller pieces. And, as I settle into this rhythm of ‘slice-slice-slice-repeat’, I find my soul soothed, comforted.
So much of life today feels jarring to my senses.
The minute I turn on my phone it’s like I’m standing on the shore watching a massive wave coming toward me that I can’t stop and will probably pull me up under and toss me around in a sea of anger, division, and demands.
I listen to the struggles of my friends and family and I feel powerless to do much more than fall on my knees and pray. The unpredictability of the world around me makes me lean on the security found in the things that are predictable.
In music, rhythm is a regular repetition or a grouping of beats. No matter what else a piece of music has in terms of its pitch or tone, the rhythm never changes. It’s a stabilizing force and brings order to a composition that would be completely chaotic without it.
The same can be said of rhythms in our lives and in our homes. When everything else feels out of control, rhythms and patterns provide us with stability and something that we can rely upon to give us a sense of security in a very insecure world.
But, too often, we view the rhythmic things we do in our lives as merely tasks to be gotten through, rather than gifts which provide much-needed balance.
1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”
God’s universe is one of order. There is an orderly pattern to our days and a rhythm to time and seasons.
Our hearts pump blood through our organs in a rhythmic beat. And, when I come to Him with chaotic thoughts and feelings that threaten to overwhelm me, I can physically feel the tension leaving my body as He brings order to my soul through the rhythm of confession, supplication, and expressions of gratitude.
The One who created me built right into my heart a desire for Him and since He is the God of rhythms, patterns, and order, He created me to long for those too.
So, not only is it imperative for me to create a home that is a reflection of His design, I must also learn to take comfort and find strength in the rhythms that naturally arise throughout my everyday moments.
Oswald Chambers said, “We all have those times when there are no flashes of light and no apparent thrill to life, where we experience nothing but the daily routine with its common everyday tasks. The routine of life is actually God’s way of saving us between our times of great inspiration which come from Him. Don’t always expect God to give you His thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God.”
In a culture that celebrates big accomplishments and thrilling moments, we can be tempted to allow this way of life to creep into our faith journey.
To assume that what exists between the mountaintop experiences is simply the mundane stuff we need to get through as quickly as possible.
But, when we recognize the beauty in the rhythms of the ‘drudgery’, we may just discover that it’s where we find the most comfort.
Standing at my kitchen sink, glancing up now and then to look at the window and see if I can spy the top of Mt. Hood peeking up through the line of trees, hands covered in strawberry juice, I feel the same joy I experience when I hear a beautiful piece of music.
The rhythm created as I slice through each berry provides the perfect foundation for the harmony that exists between my heart and my home.
Grandma’s Strawberry Pie Recipe
½ Cup Canola Oil
2 Tablespoons Milk
1 Tablespoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ½ Cups Flour
3-4 Cups of Sliced Fresh Strawberries
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Water
Dash of Salt
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
3 oz. Package of Strawberry Jello
Mix together oil, milk, sugar, and salt. Add flour and stir until it crumbles. Press with fingertips into bottom and sides of 8” or 9″ pie pan. Do not prick bottom. Bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees until very light brown. Cool.
Combine sugar, water, salt, and cornstarch. Cook over low heat, continuously whisking until thick. Remove at once and mix in strawberry Jell-O. Mixture must be cooled but not firm. Put a small amount of mixture in cooled crust. Layer fruit and mixture and allow to set in refrigerator until firm. Top with whipped cream (if desired) before serving.
DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE RECIPE!
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I love this gentle reflection on the rhythms of life. Beautifully written and so true. Thank you!
Such an encouraging article reminding me to enjoy the gentle rhythms of life and not crave constant excitement.